Low hemoglobin called anemia is a most common condition in majority of population especially in females. Recently I volunteered a blood donation camp in which I observed many healthy people who were eager to donate blood were unfit for blood donation just because of a low hemoglobin count. Low hemoglobin levels without any underlying conditions like in pregnancy, liver or kidney diseases, absorptive disorders, thalassemia, cancers, bleeding wounds etc. can be usually due to improper eating habits, low nutritional content of foods, inadequate nutrient intake or improper cooking methods which can lead to deficiency of nutrients like iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C and proteins together responsible for low levels of hemoglobin.
When you have blood hemoglobin levels below 12.5g% it is termed as anemia. Adequate hemoglobin is required for transport of oxygen to your body cells. It also transports carbon-dioxide to lungs to be exhaled. Our body uses dynamic mechanism to maintain its hemoglobin. It tries to maintain normal hemoglobin by using these stores of nutrients like iron. Once the stores are depleted, slowly the hemoglobin levels start decreasing below normal showing various symptoms. Low hemoglobin gives you general fatigue, paleness, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, dizziness, cold extremities (hand and feet), tingling sensation in legs, fast or irregular heartbeat, cravings to items that are not foods (mud, clay, chalk etc.), brittle nails, headaches, etc.
Donating blood for a social cause is a good initiative for which we should keep ourselves fit not only from health point of view but also to maintain your hemoglobin count. To maintain hemoglobin throughout the year we need to have a balanced diet rich in various nutrients. Hemoglobin is made up of heme and globin which requires iron, vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B12 and proteins. To improve your hemoglobin, you need all these nutrients in your diet in correct amount. Iron deficiency anemia is most common and is seen in majority of females than males.
Improve your iron intake by increasing following iron rich foods in your diet:
- Non – veg : Meat and fish
- Pulses and Beans, peas and lentils.
- Nuts – Walnuts, Roasted almonds, peanuts
- Seeds – Garden cress (Aliv seeds), Pumpkin, Sesame and flax seeds
- Whole grains
- Most dark green leafy vegetables – Spinach, Shepu, Cauliflower leaves, Broccoli, Rajgeera.
- Iron fortified breakfast cereals and breads
Usually the vegetarian varieties contain non-heme iron and require vitamin C rich foods consumed along with iron rich foods for better absorption. These foods include:
- Amla and Guava
- Sweet lime, orange
- Fermented products
- Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, peas
- Green leafy vegetables
Diet should contain a considerable amount of good quality protein to improve your hemoglobin levels. They include:
- Lean Chicken
- Meat and Fish
- Milk and milk products
If you have a anemia due to folic acid and vitamin b12 deficiency, you need to incorporate following foods in your diet.
- Egg yolk
- Gingelly seeds
- Sorrel (Ambat Chuka), Ladies finger, Cluster beans (Gavar), Tomatoes
- Whole Wheat
Some Important Tips to improve your hemoglobin:
- Avoid intake of tea and coffee along with meals to improve iron absorption.
- Cook at least 1 to 2 dishes in cast iron pan to provide two to three times more iron content than the one cooked in any other pan.
- Consume foods rich in vitamin C and iron together to improve absorption of iron.
- Soak, Sprout and ferment foods to improve bioavailability of iron. It reduces amount of phytates and improves iron absorption.
- Consume minimum of processed foods which lack iron. Consume plenty of natural foods to improve overall intake of nutrients.
Improve your hemoglobin levels… Maintain it all the time…
Take a balanced diet…
Maintain your nutrition and be fit for blood donation…